Listen to This Thrilling, Horrifying 911 Call Placed After an Alligator Attacked a Little Boy

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 8 2014 4:33 PM

Listen to This Thrilling, Horrifying 911 Call Placed After an Alligator Attacked a Little Boy

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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Thursday, a 9-year-old boy named James Barney was attacked by a massive alligator while swimming in a Florida lake. His friend called 911, and Barney was quickly taken to the hospital, where doctors treated thirty different teeth marks, including one with a tooth still embedded in the skin. Now the police have released the audio of that 911 call—and it's even more thrilling, agonizing, and ultimately triumphant than you'd expect it to be.

What's most impressive is the young caller's relative calm in the face of such nightmarish horror. Many adults might be driven to hysteria after seeing a 9-foot-long, almost 500-pound alligator sink his teeth repeatedly into a kid. But the caller remains remarkably cool and collected, even as he describes his friend "crawling up the shore, screaming, crying," with "gator bites all over his back."

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Barney, by the way, will make a full recovery. The alligator, however, is still at large.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

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